The Poverty Gospel-
Last summer I met a lady named Kay. If you have followed me since then you may remember the short, cryptic post about her from late July. I took a photo of her under her hat, an image lit up by orange light shining through the stained glass of a church window.
I intentionally did not give any details about her because she was living alone in her vehicle at the time and I didn’t want to put her in any kind of risk due to the vulnerability of her situation. Kay was homeless because of financial stress and remained so for a total of three years.
After our initial encounter Kay and I became pretty good friends. She would spend her days in San Gabriel Park and her nights in the Walmart parking lot. I would drop in on her at the park every few days just to see how she was holding up. Occasionally bringing her food and other items, I would primarily just stand by her car door and visit. We would discuss all sorts of things during our conversations but the talk always came back to one subject, the Lord.
Kay loves the Lord and she shares that love with anyone who she comes into contact with. Her faith and love of God is contagious. Every time we met I came away feeling joyful and uplifted, I probably benefited more from our talks than she did, a bit ironic considering the circumstances.
At 70 years old Kay has lived about as interesting a life as anyone I know. Born in Beeville, Texas in 1948, Kay spent her childhood in South Texas and Louisiana. Kay was married to three men throughout her life, one a former priest, one a former Hitler Youth, and one a Jewish man, just for good measure. She laughs about her ex husbands, all who have passed away, and talks about them all with warm affection.
Kay spent 30 years as a clothing store owner in New Orleans. Her shop was called “On The Other Hand” and was located in the heart of the French Quarter. She dealt in high fashion and had a hand in dressing many famous people in her day. After seeing photos of her shop I could tell it was a sight to behold. She describes the shop as more of a hub where the locals could hang out, sip wine, and catch up on all the local gossip. She had a patio in the back for the men to rest and relax, a strategy she used in order to give her lady customers more time to browse and spend money.
Kay was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast. Although her shop made it through the storm, which was miraculous considering it was only five blocks from the levee, unfortunately her mother did not. Kay had to evacuate with her son to Mississippi but due to her mothers age she could not come along. Her mother passed as a result of the stress but her body was left abandoned in one of the nursing homes that flooded. Kay had to endure the process of identifying her mothers body once they were allowed to return to the area, an experience that still troubles her to this day.
As I said, Kay has lived an interesting life. She says that her struggles in recent years have done nothing but strengthen her faith in the Lord. Every time I visited with her at her car I would see a bible either open in her lap or in the seat next to her. She clung tightly to the Lord through it all and now that she’s in a more stable situation she does nothing but praise Him for seeing her through. This is so common among the poor, this example of a faith made stronger through adversity.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
The first Beatitude simply illustrates the fact that when our lives are torn apart and our spirits are broken, when this world has taken everything we have, it is God who will still be there, ready to give us His Kingdom and access to all the treasures therein. And treasures you will have, for there is nothing on this earth or in the heavens above more valuable than a relationship with the Lord.
If we, in our poverty, cling even tighter to the Lord, then it is our poverty that makes us rich.
This can be called the Poverty Gospel, the Gospel that says we gain the riches of God’s Kingdom, the incalculable value of the love of Jesus, when we are at our poorest and reaching out for God. The peace and security of God’s love tower high above any adversity that this world may bring. Even those who are hurting the most, the starving and injured, will someday receive a reward so great that the suffering of this world will be long forgotten, replaced by an eternity of love and joy that can only come from God alone.
The story of Kay is a story of a poor homeless women who loves the Lord and has such a vibrant relationship with him that even the richest Queen would be jealous with envy. Kay has nothing on the outside, barely a penny to her name, but on the inside she is rich beyond measure, wealthy beyond belief, overflowing with treasures so pure they cannot be held with human hands. She has all of these things because it is on the inside that she has Christ, her great and precious reward, the reward that awaits all who believe and have placed their faith in Him.
There is only one way to truly become rich and that is by giving your life to Jesus. All the gold in the world can never buy what Jesus paid for. Kay understands this to be true and knows that in Christ her treasure is secure.
All In Jesus name,
Impeccably dressed, gracious, and beaming with affection. We sat together while praising our Lord, she had some coins for the offering plate. She lives alone in her car, waiting for what comes next. Her name is Kay.
The only thing he remembers is laying on a stretcher and hearing his little girl yelling for her daddy. He had drank himself nearly to death and was headed to the hospital where he would wind up in a alcohol induced coma. This was the final straw before the divorce, his wife had had all she could take.
Frankie struggles with severe alcoholism and is dying of liver failure. After coming back to Georgetown from Childress TX to settle some legal issues, issues which required jail time, he decided to stay so that he could hopefully see his daughter. He was unable to spend any time with her due to a restraining order and wound up back in jail multiple times for criminal trespassing from sleeping in the parks. Being homeless in Georgetown is rough.
Frankie is in the middle of a serious struggle. He is fighting a disease that is killing him but has been unable to maintain his sobriety so far. The drinking has led to multiple years of being on the street with barely anywhere left to turn. He knows he is running out of options but he still believes that God has a plan for his life and that some day it will all be ok again.
“Sometimes at night, when I sleep in the woods, I stare at the moon and the stars and I know that God is there. Once, when I was really depressed, I prayed that God would let me know he still loved me and as I was praying I felt something sit down beside me on my sleeping bag. I quickly grabbed my flashlight, looked over, and you know what I saw, a baby doe, a doe just walked up and laid down beside me, I knew God had sent the doe for my comfort.”
He is right, God does give us comfort, He comforts those who mourn and Frankie is definitely in a state of mourning. He wept the entire time we talked but never once did he blame God for his circumstances.
When we have nothing, absolutely nothing, we still have God. Many of the homeless I work with hold on to this truth as God is the only thing they have most of the time. They live lives full of suffering, shame, addiction and pain, yet they still love God and thank him every day for the life they have.
This duality of loving God but still being trapped by the world and the sin therein is complicated, but I do not doubt that it is sincere.
I learned long ago not to try to determine if someone is “saved”, only God knows the answer to that question.
I am aware that for every bad behavior that I see in someone else’s life, that there is something equally corrupt and sinful in my own. I know this about myself so I have no right to look down on a homeless man or women just because their bad habits are a little more pronounced than my own, at least they are open about it, I hide my sin like a shameful little rat.
Of course, whether we wear our sin on the outside or the inside, God sees it all. He knows how morally bankrupt we are and He loves us anyway. Through the sacrifice of HIs son, the tearing of the curtain, the breaking down of the barrier between man and God, we now have the ability to come into the presence of God regardless of the stains on our clothes or the dirt on our face.
No matter who you are or what you have done, if you give your life to Jesus, you can pray to God and he will hear your prayers. Jesus has done this, he has bridged the gap between Frankie’s sin and the Holy God of heaven. When Jesus went to the cross he went there for Frankie because he loves him, and even though the enemy has worked overtime on Frankie’s life, it doesn’t mean he is less deserving of God’s love than you or I.
I said goodbye to Frankie yesterday. We were able to purchase him a bus ticket back home to Childress. Before we went to the station I took him to Walmart and bought him some new clothes and a new pair of boots. He took a hot shower at the church and when he came out in the new clothes I asked him how he felt. He said he felt good and then commented on how “comfortable” the new clothes were. I smiled as I remembered the doe and thought what a privilege it had been to serve Frankie that day.
She was quick to tell me all about her wedding and what she is going to wear. Her ensemble will consist of a white lacy blouse, white jeans, and blue suede shoes.
“Blue suede shoes?” I asked.
“Yes.” She said, “I have a pair with butterfly’s on the heals and I love them, butterfly’s are a symbol for new beginnings you know.”
When she said that all I could do was smile. The image of her all dressed up and ready to walk down the isle was great enough all by itself, but when she mentioned the butterfly’s, that’s when I had to just stop and smile.
Meet Michelle. Michelle and I had some time to hang out yesterday while we ran errands. Along with Don the three of us went to a follow up doctors visit in Round Rock, grabbed lunch, stopped by Labor Finders, and even did a little shopping. We were able to squeeze in a portrait and interview as well, something she has actually been looking forward to since she saw Don’s post last week.
About the butterfly’s, she is right, butterfly’s are a perfect symbol for new beginnings. The transformation of a earthbound caterpillar into a majestic flying canvas of God’s creative beauty is truly a miracle. It is also a perfect symbol for Michelle’s life, a life that is on the cusp of a new beginning, something that should also be looked at as a miracle.
When I met Michelle she was in bad health. She struggles with extremely high blood pressure and without her medication she stands the risk of having a stroke. She came to the showers one day and had a slight look of panic on her face. She needed medication and had no money for the $20 prescription.
Fortunately Scott and Kim Stout were there and immediately said they would run her to HEB to get the meds, problem solved. Knowing that this was an issue however, we made sure to get Michelle to a doctors office as soon as she moved into the camp. She is now on the right track and has plenty of medication for the time being.
Her health is one thing but it’s her appearance and demeanor that are also noticeably different. She’s calm, well rested, and well nourished. Now that she lives at the camp she can stop worrying about being discovered, getting arrested, or having her belongings stolen, so her stress level is a lot lower and subsequently so is her blood pressure. She just looks so much better.
Michelle occasionally wears a dress around the camp, keeps everything tidy, and has even put a table cloth on the picnic table and arranged a bowl for the fruits and vegetables, she’s making the camp her home.
Michelle has two goals, a proper marriage to Don and a permanent place to live.
Of everyone who has come to the camp so far it is Don and Michelle who seem the most ready to make a real, permanent change. They are both completely sober and show no signs of falling back into old habits.
We only have a few weeks of this camp left before we have to shut it down. The park is going back to it’s summer schedule and will no longer allow continuos camping over two weeks.
We are working on some alternatives (land anyone?) and finding something for Michelle and Don is a priority. Until then they both want to make the most of the time we have left. Michelle has ID and is looking for work. We are really close to getting Don’s ID so he will be going to work as well.
I’m not sure how this will turn out but I am ABSOLUTELY confident that God will provide exactly what we need exactly when we need it, I do not have a single doubt about that. I’m not worried and neither is Michelle.
As we were packing up I asked Michelle if she knew where she was going to get married. She replied right back, “At your church, and your going to be the one who performs it.”
Wow! What an honor that would be.
I do see a time in the near future where Michelle and Don are able to find a home, get married, and really settle down. I see them living a peaceful, simple life where they can talk and bicker, laugh and argue, and carry on like they do. They don’t need much really, just a little time and a new beginning, just like the butterfly.
Heavenly Father we lift up Michelle and Don to you. We ask Lord that you continue to heal and restore them in both body and spirit. We ask that you would provide them with a home so that they can stay off the street and away from that old life. In you God there is a promise of a new life and we pray that for them both.
In Jesus name we pray.
Don and The Campground-
Meet Don. Don and his wife Michelle (she’s camera shy) have lived on the street for the last three years. They recently came to Georgetown after living for a short time in San Antonio. Don said the drugs and crime were so bad that he was in fear for their life most of the time so he knew they needed to find a safer place to live.
Don has reached a point in life where he really wants to rebuild broken relationships with family and get his life turned around for good, so he came back to Georgetown where his dad and sister live, where he can start over in safety.
Originally from Illinois, Don is 54 years old and has lived in Central Texas for the last ten years. Once the owner of two successful businesses, a body shop and welding business, Don has been to the top of the mountain in regards to money and success, he’s also fallen all the way back down to the bottom, living as no human should.
“I had a gift, I could fix any car and weld any kind of metal, I was an artist. Success went to my head, I made over a million dollars with the two businesses, I built it all with my dad over a six year span and it was all gone in less than two. I took what the Lord gave me and destroyed it.”
It started with the economy slowing down and being forced to lay off employees. Unable to deal with the pain of letting people go, Don started working shady business deals that led to some serious trouble with the IRS. Financial stress led to divorce where he eventually signed away custody of his three children to his ex-wife. Don then went off the deep end and fell completely into a life of drugs and alcohol.
“When the wife left the party was on. Alcohol, women, drugs, I was smoking so much rock, like you’ve never seen before. Basically I was trying to kill myself, I had a death wish.”
The rampant drug use has left it’s mark. Don has a hard time being still, constantly moving and rocking and fidgeting. He still has a pretty sharp mind but even in conversation you can see the effects of the years of abuse. I have seen him standing on the street looking confused and talking to himself, it’s a hard thing to see, especially in a man who is so nice and polite.
I first met Don and Michelle a couple of months ago when they came to the showers. I would see them in town from time to time but I eventually lost touch with them assuming they had moved on, then three weeks ago they showed up back at the church. We just had a cold front move in so as soon as I saw them I asked if they wanted to spend a couple of nights in a motel, they were glad to accept.
We put them up and even had volunteers bring them hot meals both nights. Don was humbled and during dinner he stood up in front of the group to thank us all and tell us they had never experienced generosity like this before, it was a really nice gesture.
We had several other people staying in the Motel during the cold front which gave Don and Michelle a chance to get to know everybody, Don and DJ, the old men of the group, have since become friends.
It was during the motel stay that I offered to let them move into the camp but they turned me down. Don was unsure of what they were going to do and decided they could hack it out in their tent once the cold front moved through. I lost touch with them again soon after due to their phone only working part of the time. Something told me not to give up on them so DJ and I went looking for them. For days we would check the library, the nearby neighborhoods, and even hiked down the river looking for their camp, no trace.
Early this past Wednesday I sent Don a text. I didn’t think he would get it since he had not returned any calls or texts for days, but I was wrong. He immediately called me back and told me they were in a pretty desperate situation. They had not eaten for two days, showered in two weeks, and were starting to get sick. Don then asked if the offer for the camp was still available, I told him it was.
I said we needed a day to set up a second site since the other site was full so I put them up in the Motel again to let them catch their breath. I called my volunteers and the four of us went into action gathering all the supplies for a second camp ground.
I picked them up from the Motel yesterday, grabbed some lunch, and talked about how this would all work. I told them we would provide shelter and food and that they can pay us back by taking the steps necessary to get a job and get back on their feet.
When we got to the camp DJ walked up and gave Don a big ol hug, the two were happy to see each other.
But then Don was silent.
He walked around a little eventually making his way to his tent. We had already arranged the cots, space heater, and blankets, so it was looking pretty cozy. Don sat down in a chair and when he did I noticed his hand shaking, I think he may have been a little overwhelmed. He sat there for a minute or so more and then made a comment about the birds and how nice the camp ground was.
He then looks at me and says, “I don’t know what it is about you, you keep popping up in my life. It’s happened so many times I’m starting to think that maybe this is supposed to mean something.”
It certainly does mean something, it means the world to me. Having the opportunity to share the blessings of God with the poor and the broken, it means more to me than anything I’ve ever done.
This is the work we are called to. We are literally fishers of men, searching for the lost, reconciling men and women back to God through the love of Jesus Christ.
There is nothing more important than saving a human soul and as of right now we have six of them, six souls, living at a campground, all in desperate need of the Gospel.
I could ramble on and on about our responsibility, this opportunity, and the work that it requires but I think you already know. If you are reading this you need to get involved. Meals, wood, supplies, rides, prayer, friendship, love, these are the things we need and you, yes you, can help provide them.
God is calling us all to this work and it’s time we all heed the call. I need people to get involved on a deeper level, to get their hands dirty and join the fight.
Please reach out to me if you can help. Sorry I’m getting so fired up, I apologize, but we need help, we need the Church.
Thank you and God Bless!
When I looked at my phone and saw the missed calls I knew something was wrong. It was early, just before 7am, and seeing Jerry’s name twice on my caller id was startling.
I called him right back, “Hey man are you ok, what’s going on?”
“Oh not much, DJ was here, he said he lost his ride to work and if he doesn’t make it in he will lose his job.”
I was slightly relieved, at least it wasn’t a serious emergency, but it was still important.
“Is he still there? “ I asked.
“No, he left, I didn’t see which way he went.”
Jerry was at the donut shop on 29 and DJ had come up there to use the phone, when DJ saw Jerry and recognized him from the Saturday showers he had asked him to call me.
DJ had been working a good paying job in Cedar Park for the last eight months and had been getting a ride to work with one of his friends. His friend had to leave town unexpectedly the week before for a funeral which caused DJ to miss two days of work already.
He finally called me that week and asked if I could help him out. I was able to get him to work the rest of the week, picking him up at 5am and driving to the far side of Cedar Park, a 30 minute drive. It was a tall order but I was happy to do it since it meant DJ would keep his job.
DJ was eventually able to find a co-worker to give him a ride so he thanked me and said he should be ok from now on. A couple of days later however, the co-worker didn’t show up, that’s when I got the early morning call.
I jumped in my van and drove toward the donut shop. I circled around the shop, the adjacent streets, and of course to the block where DJ lives, but I didn’t see him anywhere. I eventually gave up, picked Jerry up from the donut shop, and the two of us went to breakfast to catch up a little.
Later that same day I get a call from an unknown number, it was about 3pm.
“Hey Donnie, it’s DJ, I’m in trouble man, I tried to walk to work but I’m not going to be able to make it, my body is giving out on me and I’m in a lot of pain.”
I had never heard him sound that way, his voice was straining, you could tell he was really hurting.
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m at the Carls Jr. on 1431 and 183A, my ride didn’t show up so I had no choice. ”
I couldn’t believe it, he had walked 16 miles to try to get to work, 16 miles!
He knew he would miss most of the work day but he just wanted to show the company how important the job was to him, so he was going to do anything he could to make it in.
I told him, “I’m on my way, stay right where you are.”
When I walked into that restaurant and saw my friend, slumped over and half asleep, ace bandages wrapped around the outside of his jeans on both knees, a walking stick and backpack by his side, I knew he was broken.
I quietly walked over to where he was and sat down at the table. He woke up, sat up strait, and said, “Man, am I glad to see you.”
We talked, grabbed a bite to eat, and eventually made our way back to Georgetown.
DJ knew it was not realistic to keep that job, he has no vehicle, no phone, and no reliable way to make it in.
You might ask why a man who has worked for the better part of a year doesn’t even have a phone? I ask that same question, I’ll let you come up with the answer.
DJ lives in the back of a broken down 92 Suburban that is parked in one of the rougher areas of Georgetown. He recently had his windows busted out, his bike stolen, and now has no job.
He is around a group of people who are involved in all the typical street activities, drugs, crime, and all around filthy living.
I’ve always known that for DJ to get out of that life he would need to relocate. I have offered the camp to him from the time we first set it up, but it was never really an option for him since he needed the ride to work and his friend who gave him a ride the whole time lives inside the house where the Suburban is parked.
Well, now that he doesn’t have that job he is finally free to make a change.
Today is a new day, today DJ is moving into the camp and I couldn’t be more excited. We get to start over together, working toward something more, something real, something worth having, toward the type of life the Lord intended for us to have.
God is Good!
“My Grandmother was the root, the first one to tell me about God and the spiritual life. She told me that God is a loving father who is looking out for his family.
I’ve never considered myself a leader or a preacher, simply a child of God.”
Yesterday I had the privilege to spend over eight hours with this gentleman as we worked together helping different people all around Georgetown.
We installed a washing machine for a handicap neighbor, provided emergency food assistance to a friend who had reached out for help, drove around searching for a homeless couple who hasn’t been seen for a couple of days, delivered sandwiches, trimmed trees, unloaded supplies, prayed with the poor and preached to the lost.
I’m telling you it was a full day.
D.J. is not only a new friend but I consider him something of a mentor and partner in ministry. He talks about God non stop but does so in a way that is just easy to listen to.
It started when he was a child, after his Grandmother had helped open his eyes to spiritual truths. He began to see life in a different light but soon realized that not everyone shared his perspective.
The people in the neighborhood referred to him as “That One” because he was the guy who always talked about God. “Oh man, here comes "That One" again, somebody tell him we don’t want to hear it.”
D.J. never let that slow him down because he knew that believers were called to be set apart anyway and that God was always on his side. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t smoke, never joined a gang and has never hurt anyone other than when he has had to fight for his life.
D.J. carries scars from battle, both physical and spiritual. They can be seen on his arms, face and neck, and can be heard in his voice when he recounts the tragedy of losing his mother and daughter in the same year.
“My home went from being filled with the sound of children playing to nothing but the echo of my own voice. I couldn’t be around people so I took a job as a night watchmen, that way I could cry alone.”
He eventually recovered and ever since D.J. has given his life to the work of opening spiritual doors for others. He says that it is his job to share the truth of the Gospel to the men and women he meets every day, “That way they can decide for themselves what to do with it. Either pursue the truth as God reveals it or leave it alone.”
We worked together, prayed together, and even sang together, and by the end of the day I knew I had gained something precious in this man, who is in fact a leader, and is most certainly a preacher. I’m so very grateful to God for bringing him into my life, the potential of the two of us working together is something I am very excited about.
I came home worn out and went to bed early.
I’m telling you it was a full day.
Why I Hide-
PTSD, Anxiety, Anti-Social disorder, these are just a few of the issues that plague my friend Jeff.
Originally from Ft. Sill Oklahoma, Jeff has lived in Georgetown since 1987 and has been homeless here for the last two years.
Living in one of the city parks and sleeping in a cinderblock bathroom, Jeff does what he can to avoid interacting with people because of the issues mentioned above.
“I have a hard time dealing with people, that’s why I hide.”
These problems arose as a result of serving as a Marine in both Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he saw extensive combat. Jeff served as a Riflemen in the 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines.
Jeff and I met over the summer and have run into each other several times since. This past Wednesday we hung out a little, had a meal, and talked about some of the reasons he is still homeless.
At 12 years old Jeff’s mom was sent to prison and then his father died in the span of just a few weeks, he has been recovering ever since. After his mother was released from prison they moved to Texas and eventually wound up in Georgetown.
Jeff was once married but went through a terrible divorce. The divorce combined with his phycological issues has led him to where he is today.
His voice is permanently strained due to two recent bouts of pneumonia and he now talks in a gruff whisper. Jeff is also diabetic and requires insulin to survive. All in all, he’s in a really rough place both mentally and physically.
I asked Jeff what the perfect life would look like for him if everything went right for the next six months, he said, “To be living inside where it’s warm and to have warm food.”
So that was our prayer together.
We prayed for God to provide a clear path forward for Jeff, a path to get off the streets and into a warm home. We prayed for Jeff’s mind to be settled and for him to let go of the past hurts that still cause him harm to this day. We prayed for the love of Jesus to fill our hearts and minds so that we can focus on him through it all. We prayed for restoration.
Please join us as we lift up Jeff together.
In Jesus name,
Great News, Jeff has moved into our camp!
Jeff had messaged me several days ago from the hospital asking if I would stop by to visit. He had been admitted to the ICU after getting really sick from several different diabetes related conditions and just wanted someone to chat with. When I got there he was already on the mend and was going to be released later that evening so he was in a pretty good mood.
I asked him where he was going to go after the hospital and he told me he was going back to the park. I brought up the camp at Cedar Breaks and said that if he was willing to give it a try that I’d be happy to take him out there and set him up with everything he needed to stay warm and fed, the very things we had prayed for together a couple of weeks earlier.
He said he would think about it and that he would get in touch with me if he decided to do it. I could tell he was hesitant because it was a bit of an unknown and it would take him out of the park for the first time in years, the place he considered his home.
A couple of days later I get a message from him saying that he was willing to try the camp, I picked him up the next day.
When I pulled up to the bathroom where he was staying he said he needed to grab some things to take with him. I jumped out of the truck and went with him to give him a hand. When I walked into the bathroom to grab his things I was completely shocked by what I saw. It was dark, wet, and covered in filth, Jeff was literally living on top of a pile of trash.
I was crushed. To think a man like Jeff, a man who is extremely intelligent and clean cut, had been living in these conditions was just beyond my comprehension. I was reminded how over time our humanity can be chipped away to such a degree that we forget what it is like to live like a human being. Jeff was living out a life of death and the bathroom was his grave.
When we got in the truck to leave I looked at Jeff and told him that he was done with this place and was never coming back to this park again, he agreed.
So, we went strait to HEB to do some shopping. We grabbed a cart and walked all through the store. Jeff has been a chef in the past so I let him buy pretty much anything he wanted for groceries, he was giddy. He kept rattling off recipes for this meal and that meal and how he was going to cook healthy and finally be able to keep his diabetes under control. I wanted him to be able to eat like a king and watching him shop made me just as giddy as he was.
We got to the camp ground and set up his tent, cot and other gear. He immediately threw a bunch of ingredients in the crock pot and then sat down with a big smile on his face. I hung out for a couple of hours just chatting and getting to know him a little better. It was a perfect afternoon, one that was full of life and love and one that was far away from that grave.
God is good!
Plans Of The Devil-
It hasn’t been easy. I guess it’s to be expected, struggling with change that is. Most people have a hard time making even small life changes let alone wholesale, 180 degree, foundational ones.
Jeff is in the middle of that kind of change and it’s not easy. That’s not to say it has been all bad, it hasn’t. Jeff has made plenty of progress since getting out of the park. He’s put on ten pounds, gotten his blood sugar under control, regularly takes his insulin, has had a physical, and is even scheduled to see a dentist to address his three cracked teeth.
He’s been sleeping good, cooking, painting, playing music, making new friends and reconnecting with his daughter who told him she wants to move back to Texas once she graduates high school next year, news that made him smile for a week strait.
Just yesterday we were able to finally get Jeff’s state ID so that he can begin to look for a job. Not having that ID has actually been a big part of the problem, no social security card no ID, no ID no job, no job no purpose.
Jeff has had to start over from scratch regarding his identification. I’ve found that many homeless people either do not have ID or have expired ID”s. Most have given up even trying to get a new one because of the problems associated with homelessness, primarily, they do not have proof of residency. You and I have filing cabinets for our records, the homeless have nowhere to keep important information.
Within the first few days of moving into the camp Jeff took the steps necessary to order his social security card. He had medical records at the hospital and luckily that was enough to order another card. The plan was to go to the DPS office and get a state ID as soon as that card came in so that he could start looking for work.
It was the wait for that card that almost killed Jeff, I mean that literally.
An idle mind is the devils playground. I don’t know who said that but it is certainly true. With nothing but time on his hands Jeff got himself into some real trouble last week.
It started with a call from him while I was at the emergency room with Mike Hayes. I couldn’t take the call so I sent him a text. “Hey buddy, how’s it going?”
He replies, “I’m dying..at the moment trying to get the blood off, need help, immediately..not calling Cops but need u, at old restroom…San Gabriel.”
As soon as I read, “old restroom, San Gabriel”, I knew he had screwed up. If you recall, Jeff had lived in San Gabriel park for over two years, spending the nights in one of the park bathrooms. Jeff has plenty of “friends’ who were still in the park so he got the bright idea that he would go back and see how everybody was doing.
He was bored and missed some of the guys, I understand that, it’s what happened after he got there that was the problem. Basically Jeff got wasted, got into a fight, and took a brick to the face, giving him a serious concussion and several face lacerations.
When I got to the park I see Jeff hunched over one of the picnic tables, facedown and moaning. When I walked up to him I couldn’t believe what I saw. He had a huge knot on his forehead, large scrape on his nose, busted lip, and blood everywhere.
The cops pulled up just a few minutes after I arrived, someone had called them, they both knew Jeff by name. They asked him what happened but Jeff refused to give them details. They asked him if he wanted them to investigate who did it, Jeff looks up and in a loud, drunken, slurred voice says, “NO, I DON’T, I’M A MARINE AND THIS IS WHAT MARINE’S DO, THEY FIGHT.”
The cops and I all look at each other and kinda laughed a little. We encouraged Jeff to get into the ambulance and go to the hospital which he did. He was released later that evening and we were able to get him back to the camp to get some rest.
Jeff is mostly recovered now short of the scrapes on his upper lip. He understands that he cannot let himself go back to the park and to that life. He told me that the brick was, “The devils parting gift.” Maybe it was, because when I got home that night guess what was waiting in my mailbox, Jeff’s social security card.
Jeff sees God working in his life and knows that God has a plan. He also sees the devil and knows the devil has plans also. Fortunately, we know how this story ends, God defeats the devil, life swallows death, goodness wins out in the end for those who love God. The final change will come for us all one day, the complete transformation of body and soul. One day we will no longer need to dodge the arrows of the evil one and will instead rest in the protection of God the Father, far away from the influence of evil. We are headed in that direction now but until then we must remain diligent, understanding that there is an enemy, a thief who has a plan, a plan to kill, steal, and destroy all that is good in this world.
Lord we pray for Jeff and for the change he is trying to make. We pray that he remain focused on you and rely on you to finish the work you have started. Father we ask that you protect us all from the plans of the devil and keep us safe. We look forward to your return, to the destruction of evil once and for all. We love you and thank you.
It is in your son’s name we pray.
-The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
-For, behold, the wicked bend the bow, They make ready their arrow upon the string To shoot in darkness at the upright in heart.Psalm 11:2
Originally from Memphis Tennessee, Hoppie has lived in Georgetown for the last several years. He’s homeless and is not a fan of the high cost of living in Georgetown, but he loves it all the same.
“It’s safe here, I don’t have to watch my back every second of the day.”
Hoppie is close to getting off the street. He is working, making good money in construction, and hopes to have enough to get into a trailer or small apartment sometime in the future.
Unfortunately it will probably be spring before he has enough saved up since he will spend the majority of the winter in a Motel. Granted, our winters are short, basically January and February, but still, two months in a Motel at $1800 a month makes it really difficult to get ahead.
Hoppie lives with Jeff down in the park. They both stick together and do what they can to help one another out. He didn’t say it in so many words but Hoppie loves Jeff like a brother, you could hear it in his voice when he talked about his concern for Jeff’s wellbeing. He told me that when he gets the Motel that, “No matter what, Jeff is coming with me.”
It’s heartwarming seeing two men who love one another the way they do. They both have grizzled exteriors, yell at each other, cuss like sailors, and live extremely rough lives, but they have love.
The Bible says that above all things we are to have fervent love for one another. Did you catch that, ABOVE ALL THINGS, this is the most important commandment in the Bible, to love God and love one another. Because both of these men still hold on to that truth, even unconsciously, there is hope for them.
Love is the evidence that their hearts have not turned to stone, that their lives are still salvageable and able to be refined into vessels of honor, that there is still a chance for redemption precisely because they still have the capacity to love.
This world is harsh, and if you let it, it will destroy your ability to love others, that’s why we have to remain connected to God, the God who IS Love. God fills our hearts with love in a way that replenishes what the world takes away.
God has promised to love us for all eternity and to give us an inheritance that is incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away. God has promised us himself, forever.
There is still a glimmer of hope for Hoppie and Jeff. I pray that somehow we are able to pour into their lives and kindle that small flame they still have burning inside. I hope to show them that God has not given up on them, that if they will give their lives to Him he will take that small flame and turn it into a roaring fire, a fire that will set their hearts ablaze.
It can happen because they still have love.
Thank you God for your mercy, for your patience, and for your love. I pray for both Jeff and Hoppie, that they will come to know you and see that it is only through you that their lives will be made complete.
In Jesus name,
And above all things have a fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8
That’s how I have his name in my phone, John/Camper. Everyone I work with has a similar entry, first name followed by whatever word comes to mind that will remind me of the person. I chose camper for John because well, he likes to camp.
John has been staying at our camp at Cedar Breaks virtually the entire time we’ve been out there. The first day we arrived at the camp and began to set up our tents it quickly became obvious that John knew what he was doing.
He was the fist one done setting up his tent, the first one to inventory the supplies, and the first one to begin to gather fire wood and start a fire. He owns a small saw that he uses to trim the wood into useable sizes, a saw that was worn to a nub.
John has been homeless for a few years and is working his way back up the ladder. He was camping in an area of town where it really wasn’t allowed and was eventually discovered and evicted. John came to the showers that next Saturday and was looking for somewhere a little more stable to lay his head.
That following Sunday is when we decided to try the camp ground to see if it was going to be a feasible option for the guys. I had four guys with me the day we bought the gear for the camp ground, John was one of them.
As we loaded the cart with tents, cots, fuel, and other gear John kept saying over and over, “This is the first time any church has ever done anything like this for me.” “I’ve never been helped like this.” etc., etc. The other guys all agreed with the sentiment.
I wasn’t totally surprised by those statements since I knew what we were doing was unusual, I was just happy to hear that the guys were sincerely grateful and that the camp was going to be a benefit to them all.
John has been able to save enough money to buy himself a good bike and other necessary supplies and plans to continue working and saving enough to buy a van soon. I asked him why a van and he said, “So I can outfit it with a living quarters and travel the country, I really want to see all the national parks.”
That sounds like a worthy goal in my book and something that suits John perfectly, I’m confident he will make it happen.
They have lived here since before the roads were paved, the Rose family that is. Ricky is proud of that history and he should be.
Ricky himself is approaching 60 and has so many memories that he can’t help but share story after story, one leading right into another.
Old farmers with salt guns shooting at the kids for trespassing, restaurants and shops where the locals hung out but that have long since closed, friends and family that have come and gone, and even stories of his own life, a life that Ricky admits has all but faded away.
We spent some time together this week, hunting for jobs, sharing a meal, and hanging out. I was happy to sit and listen to everything he had to say about growing up in Georgetown, all while trying to picture in my minds eye what life was like here back in the day.
I see Ricky most Saturdays at the showers but I also seem to run into him everywhere I go. I’ll see him riding his borrowed library bike down the street, just cruising along in no big hurry at all. When he comes to the showers he greets all the people, sits down with a coffee, and starts talking about the goodness of God.
The impression I get of Ricky Rose is that he has come to terms with his life as it is, that he has made his peace with the world around him, and that even if there are those who cannot forgive him for things he has done, he has at least forgiven himself.
This is a man who at one time was married with a family, had lots of money, cars, clothes, and just about everything else you could want. He carries photos of his former life with him and loves to show them off to anyone who will give him a few minutes of their time. It’s hard seeing him so happy and full of life in the photos, all while knowing what has become of him since.
Ricky struggles with addiction and has for nearly 40 years, habits that started in the 80’s and that still plague him to this day. He is frank about it and doesn’t make excuses, but he does admit, it’s debilitating. He lives outdoors on the side of a relatives home, sleeps on the ground, has no money or possessions, and survives off of the kindness of others.
I am convinced that Ricky loves God in his soul and that he is looking forward to meeting him face to face some day.
“The biggest come up is when God calls you home.”
It’s his eager anticipation of his own “come up”, the end of this life and the beginning of the next, that tells me Ricky has found peace.
“I couldn’t always say I was ok, but now I’m ok, because I know the last shall be first.”
He’s tired, he’s hungry, and he’s thirsty for more of the goodness of God and less of the trappings of this world. He prays that God would, “take the taste for drugs out of my mouth.” something that has not happened yet, and maybe never will on this side of eternity.
How could a man who loves God remain addicted to drugs? I wish I knew.
Drug addiction is brutal and is one of the clearest manifestations of the power of repeated sin. It is what happens when we deny what we know is right and give in to temptation over and over and over again. We eventually we lose control of our lives entirely and sin takes over completely.
We all have a sin nature and the more control we give to that nature the less human we become over time. We slowly dim the light of life given to us by God and morph into a dark version of ourselves, a false person, a living lie.
Darkness has control of Ricky right now and he knows it. Yes it would be great to see him change, to dig himself out of the hole he’s in, and maybe that will happen, but after so many years of abusing his body and mind I don’t know that it will.
Ricky is trapped in a very dark place, we all are to some degree or another, because sin is still part of every one of us.
Oh but God is coming. He’s coming back for Ricky and for all those who love him, and when he does we will all be with Christ in a light so bright that darkness will never penetrate it again. For Christ dwells in unapproachable light, where darkness cannot exist and therefore has no power.
Temptation, addictions, our past, our pain, none of this is coming with us. These things will all be separated from us as far as the East is from the West. God will remember our transgressions no more because when he looks at us he sees only His Son, his beautiful, obedient, sinless Son.
Jesus destroyed darkness forever and when the full manifestation of the Kingdom of God comes there will be only light.
Ricky is sure of this and knows that it is only a matter of time. He loves God and wishes he was a better man but he knows, this life and this body are broken. He waits, he waits in eager anticipation of his own come up, one that is surely coming soon.
Thank you Lord. Thank you for Ricky, for light, for the life that is to come. We look forward to living our true life as it was meant to be, in complete fellowship with you.
In Jesus name,
Who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen. 1Timothy 6:16
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:12
"He will turn tears of pain into joy."
"No matter what, God can turn it around."
"Everything has some good in it."
"The devil was no threat to God, only a nuisance."
Ricky Rose, Georgetown TX
Morris has finally decided to stay at our camp out at the Lake Georgetown. We have been set up at Cedar Breaks Park off of DB Woods Road for going on a month now. The camp has worked really well.
I had asked Morris a few times if he wanted to stay out there but he was hesitant because it was pretty far from the construction site where he had been working.
That particular job was recently completed however so Morris decided he would check out the camp and see what he thought. We decided to take a trip out there this past Tuesday.
A little later that day I received a call from Dina who asked me if I knew anyone who needed a job. I said I did and asked her for details.
Dina knew a gentleman who needed help on his ranch, his wife had become ill and he was no longer able to handle the daily chores. The work included everything from running a backhoe to splitting wood, it was to be a full time job.
I asked Dina where the ranch was located because most of my guys do not have vehicles so it would have to be somewhat nearby. She says, “It’s on DB Woods, you know, that ranch that has the sign selling fire wood.” I replied, “You mean the ranch right across the street from Cedar Breaks Park out at the lake?”
That was the one and I couldn’t believe it. The gate to the ranch is probably less than a mile from where the tents are set up and is the only private ranch on DB Woods road, I mean, the chances of that happening.
So Morris, Dina, and I all meet up with the owner to introduce everyone. Morris can do just about anything and was anxious to get the job. The old man liked what Morris had to say and hired him on the spot, Morris starts on Monday.
On the car ride back Morris tells me he can’t believe it. He can’t believe “that God cares about me, I mean, he has so much to worry about but he knew I needed a job and look, it could’t be any closer or come at a better time.”
We were both amazed. Morris is a hard man who has lived a hard life so he doesn’t get sentimental very often but this time he did. He was extremely thankful and praised God out loud. He thanked him for caring for him and for providing this job, it was awesome to witness.
Even though John, or JJ for short, desperately needs a kidney, takes dialysis three days a week, and deals with bleeding and sudden vomiting on a regular basis, my man still remains one cool character.
JJ has been coming to the showers for the last couple of weeks. He's full of energy, quick to laugh, and just exudes positive vibes even though he is in pain most of the day.
He was born in Georgetown and has lived here his entire life, he's 53 years old.
Let's all pray for JJ, that a kidney would come available soon so that he can be done with the suffering, so that he can laugh without the pain.
Father, we lift up JJ to you. We pray that somehow he is able to be healed and restored to his full self once again. Lord ease his suffering and let him rest in knowing you. God we all look forward to a day without sickness and suffering, a day that will last for eternity. We thank you Lord and we love you.
In Jesus name,
“I have a hard time seeing others in need, I just want to give my whole heart to them.” Jerry Manning Jr.
Over the years I have learned some things about the homeless that seem counter intuitive. One of those being that the homeless are some of the most generous and giving people I know.
When you occasionally have to survive off of the charity of other people I think you can gain a perspective that someone who has always had plenty never does.
I met Jerry just this past week. We spoke a little about that topic, charity and the giving of ourselves to others.
Jerry is 49 and has been homeless off and on since he was 13 years old. He came to Texas to be closer to his daughters and wants to put himself in position to be a bigger part of their lives.
He admits the years are starting to wear on him, he’s tired and ready to find a home.
He has seen it all in his day, violence, love, addiction, deliverance, theft, and giving, the full range of the human experience.
He doesn't regret his time on the streets saying, “On one hand you are free, but on the other you still have a different set of rules to live by.”
Rules that can be merciless at times.
Jerry is a kind soul and says one of his biggest goals is to be able to give back, to “pay it forward.”
Jerry is also an Atheist but says for the first time in his life his feelings toward religion are softening.
We talked about faith, justice and mercy, about sin and sacrifice.
We talked about Jesus sacrifice on the cross, the greatest act of charity ever performed on earth. A fact that is even more astounding when considering how non of us deserved it.
We talked about how, unlike the street, God’s rules are not merciless but instead are full of mercy. How our sin is covered by His grace and how His grace, mercy, and charity are beyond measure.
I tried to explain that when we consider our own lives, the paltry and beggarly state we ALL find ourselves in, every single day, we should all be grateful and overflowing with acts of charity and giving.
We have all been forgiven of so much and have been given such a gift that the idea of not being charitable seems ridiculous.
The homeless understand this truth in a very clear way, to receive a gift means a chance to give a gift.
It may seem counterintuitive, but then again, God’s ways usually are.
Father I thank you for the time I have spent with Jerry. I pray that you continue to knock on the door of his life and that he opens that door. That he invites you in so that he may find rest in you. Lord thank you for what you have done, the sacrifice that you made in the giving of your life so that we may live. God we love and we thank you.
In Jesus name,
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8
Rugged, beautiful, confident, and hopeful, four words that sum up my impression of Mrs. Kimberly.
We have been hanging out together a little bit lately and I feel like we are starting to become friends. This past week we were able to provide a Motel room so she could get a good nights sleep, pay for some meals, provide a bike, and even go shopping at Hobby Lobby for some jewelry making supplies, something she hasn’t done in years.
I first met Kimberly at The Caring Place where she stays most days. If she’s not there then she’s down the street at the park with her grocery “buggy” as she calls it, a cart full of clothes, food, and rocks, lots and lots of rocks, which she uses for her jewelry. She is a talented artist who uses object she finds on the street to create her pieces.
Kimberly grew up in Kentucky and had a normal childhood. Her family was poor but happy and well provided for.
“We ate mostly from our garden, we had to because Walmart was two mountains away.”
She married and had her fist child at 20 years old. She has four children all together, her oldest is now almost 18.
Her and her husband divorced shortly after moving to Texas in 2011. He was awarded custody of their children which Kimberly admits was the right thing to do.
Kimberly suffers from multiple phycological disorders and occasionally has episodes that make it difficult for her to hold a job. She has also been to jail several times which also adds to the problems she faces.
When I ask her about her relationship with God she lights up. She says she never knew anything about God as a child and first started to learn about him when her own children would come visit and tell her all the things they were learning in church.
“Seeing them be good made ME feel good.”
She came to faith while in jail just two years ago. She says a nice lady from Crestview Baptist Church came to visit her and told her all about God and how he wants to be in our lives no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Kimberly started to see the truth and now has a relationship with her savior.
“God is good to me, He is a Father, he’s a Dad, and I know he wants me to be with my family.”
Kimberly is hopeful that she will one day be able to live with her children again. She knows that it will take time and lots of effort but she seems willing to work and is absolutely positive it will happen. I know I believe in her and I pray that it will.
She harbors no ill will about her situation and instead focuses on the good things in her life, the things that really matter to her.
“I may not have a house but I have people who love me and I have God.”
Keep Mrs. Kimberly in your prayers. Pray that she continues to seek God’s peace in her life, that she stays sober and focused, and that her mind is healed so that she is able to be reunited with her children.
We pray this for Kimberly Lord.
In Jesus name!
Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?
When Mike walked through the doors the first thought that came to my mind was “man, he looks tired.”
Mike came to the showers last week which is where we met for the first time. We’ve spent a little time together since then and yesterday he told me a little bit of his story.
Homeless for over two years and living in his car Mike does what he can to get a good nights sleep, but in this weather he says it’s almost impossible.
“Even at 2am it’s still in the 90’s. It doesn’t start to cool down until almost 5am but then it heats up again by 9. I have to run my car all night but that burns up my gas, plus I think it’s messing up my engine.”
Born in Austin in 1954 Mike grew up in Central Texas. He was a truck driver the majority of his life until a shoulder injury made it impossible to do his job.
He has a calm demeanor and is very frank about his situation, he understands he is in a bad spot.
Like most bouts of homelessness Mike’s problems started with a catastrophic life event. Debbie, his wife of 34 1/2 years, became very ill and eventually past away in 2015. It was a long struggle that took it’s toll on Mike, you can sense it when he recounts all the ups and downs of his wife’s battle.
“It’s not an easy job watching someone die.”
After losing his wife Mike’s problems continued as he fought family members for what was left of their belongings. He says he was betrayed by the people who should have been there for him the most.
“It was like someone pulled the rug out on my entire life.”
Mike has a goal of getting back on his feet, finding work that he can do, and eventually owning a home again someday. He knows he has a long road ahead but he seems willing to do what it takes to get there.
I asked him how we could pray for him and he had a very quick response which told me that prayer is not new to Mike.
He prays for healing of his body, to be able to pay for his doctors visits, and for a place to live.
Lord we lift up these simple requests to you. Please help Mike’s entire life get back on track. Heal his body and his hurting soul. Please bless him with the means to get out of his car and into a real home. Lord I thank you for bringing him to the church and for letting us into his life. We ask that you guide our words and our hearts as we spend time with Mike and try to help him in any way we can. We thank you and we love you.
In Jesus name we pray,
The last few weeks with William have been pretty rough. Dina, Connie, and I have spent a lot of time with Will.
He became so sick that he was unable to walk without falling down. He would fall in his apartment and would not be able to get himself off the floor until someone came to check on him, sometimes laying on the cold tile floor for over 24 hours.
The problems were compounded by the fact that he would refuse to stay in the hospital long enough for the doctors to figure out what was wrong with him. He had to have his smokes and he couldn’t handle the confinement. It got so bad that he wound up in the emergency room twice in the span of about 12 hours. The second visit is when it got a little scary.
I went to his apartment that Saturday after giving him a ride home from the emergency room the night before. I had a couple of my kids with me so I thought I would introduce them to William, maybe it would help cheer him up. As I turned onto his block the first thing I see is fire trucks, I immediately thougt the worst. I pulled up and got out to ask what was going on. The ambulance driver said that he was ok but that he needed some medical attention right away.
This time William had no choice, he had to allow himself to be admitted. He was immediately placed in ICU and no only that but was also placed in quarantine out of fear that he may have TB.
As soon as I heard that I had a mini panic attack. I knew that I had spent hours upon hours in his apartment. I knew that just the night before William had a coughing attack and that he has spit a mouthful of flem onto his floor and that some of it had hit my leg. I knew that TB was highly contagious and that I had possible exposed my entire family. I knew all that but I tried not to let fear get the best of me.
I had one of those moments where I realized that this is where the rubber meets the road. That if I was going to dedicate my life to this type of work
that I needed to come to terms with the situation.
I had already been meeting with William for several weeks by this point. I was used to sitting in his trash covered apartment, staring at his mold covered dishes, his giant trash bag full of empty cigaret butts on the floor next to his recliner, his bathroom that looked like a scene from a horror movie, smelling like cigaret smoke, barely being able to breath, having to come home and shower every time I saw him. I got used to doing all that and I didn’t mind because I really cared about the man. The TB scare was part of the package, I just had to accept that.
I kept thinking about Jesus going to the lepers, people who were also highly contagious, he went to them even though no-one else would because he loved them.
Jesus would have come and sat in Will’s apartment. He would have looked past the filth, the trash, the stench and would have focused only on his precious child.
He would have touched him and comforted him and told him he loves him, he would have given his life for him. I know this because he did, Jesus gave his life for Will, he did so because he loves him.
Jesus loves Will more than Will loves himself, Jesus knows this and he still sacrificed his own life so that Will can live.
The love of Jesus truly is incomprehensible.
Fortunately Will’s tests came back negative. He had necrotic pneumonia which is terrible but no TB. He is now in a nursing home in south Austin, a nursing home for smokers no less, and will hopefully get back to where he can walk again soon.
This work is scary but it is rewarding. Loving people requires both risk and sacrifice but that’s ok, God showed me that he is willing to come along with me. That he is willing to take the risk and make the sacrifice. That no matter what happens to my physical body that in Christ I will live.
I’ve got to tell you I know this is true, I know because I have never felt more alive in my life.
For it is the God who commaded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4: 6
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: John 11:25
But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
After living in his truck for over a year Eric now has a job and a place to stay.
Last Saturday, when Eric didn't make it to the showers, I decided to try and check in on him. He wasn't parked in the usual areas so I sent him a text, that's when I got the news.
His old boss saw that he had become homeless and offered him a job. He's now working in a mechanic shop just north of town.
Although he cannot do full blown mechanical work due to his legs and overall health, he can work at a bench and repair small parts and electrical components, something his boss says he has a real talent for.
Eric just looked happier and sounded very optimistic about his future, he had hope. He is living in an RV behind the shop but still doesn't have running water.
I told Eric he was obviously still welcome to come to Main Street Baptist Church for a shower, he said he would be there.
I gave him a couple of sets of clothes that had come in since the last time I saw him, talked a little longer, and said goodbye. I told Eric I'd come check in on him from time to time, he told me I was always welcome.
Man, talk about a good feeling, there's just nothing like seeing someone actually catch a break and make the most of an opportunity, it just makes your day.
Thank you Lord for your provision and your grace. Thank you for watching over Eric and helping him through this time. Thank you for Eric's boss and the compassion he has shown. We thank you and we love you!
In Jesus name we pray,
Steve and Heather
Meet Steve and Heather, a couple of happy love birds who are headed to Newport News, Virginia, a 1500 mile walk.
I met these two here in Georgetown tonight. They were walking very slowly up the road near I35, you could tell they were tired. They sat down in front of the gas station I was at so I walked over and asked how they were doing. They were both very polite and happy just to hang out and chat.
After a few minutes I asked them if they would allow me to pray for them, they were both happy to let me. We ducked around the side of the building and prayed together.
I prayed for God to protect them on their journey and to open up new opportunities that will give them a stable future. Steve prayed to stay committed to sobriety and to be able to see his children again soon. Heather stood silently by nodding in agreement. It was a peaceful moment.
As I usually do I asked if it would be ok to grab a pic and then I explained my ministry to them. I told them I would post their picture and that other people would join us in prayer to ask God to bless them in some way. Even though they have no way to get online they were still very thankful for the thought.
While shooting Steve mentioned that he just might have enough money for a room and asked if I knew where a cheap motel was. I gave him some directions and asked if they wanted a ride, they declined.
I wanted nothing more than to take them to a motel, pay for their room, and give them some money to get a nice meal. Just something to make them feel human again.
I had planned to give them $5 bucks for their time but ended up giving them $20.
I don't say that to brag but instead to illustrate how giving to the Prayer Collective will in fact go strait to helping the homeless and the needy.
God gave me a gift for photography and this is how I am going to use it. I want to document real life and use my gift as a tool to reach people, pray with them, give them a little love and encouragement. The really cool part is you can come along with me and take part in helping people like Steve and Heather. Please continue to follow along and please consider donating today. The help will not go unnoticed.
Thank you and God Bless!
Mr. Vasquez is 73 years old, has 13 sons, works every day as a landscaper, and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down.
I watched this gentleman work for almost 2hrs strait, digging up old grass with a pick, and only stop to wipe his brow with a towel once.
It's amazing what our bodies are capable of if we condition them the right way, fitness is not an issue for Mr. Vasquez.
Mr. Vasquez did not speak much english so communication was difficult but I was able to hear his prayer requests.
He prays for good health and for his children to be safe. He prays to be able to continue working and providing for his family.
Be in prayer for Mr. Vasquez and for all the men and women in our community who are simply trying to provide for their families. Pray for his family ties to remain strong and for enough prosperity that Mr. Vasquez can maybe take it a little easier as the years wear on.
God Bless you Mr. Vasquez, Your hard work and love for your family does not go unnoticed.
Angelo found a place to stay!
After losing touch with Angelo over the last couple of weeks I assumed that he had moved away or had possibly walked to Austin.
I'll admit I was sad after losing touch with him since I genuinely liked him and had come to know him as a good man.
Fortunately I ran into him at the caring place this week where he told me the good news. After being homeless for years he now has a job and a room at a local ranch. He looked great and sounded very optimistic, I couldn't be happier for him.
I wanted to give everyone an update on Tim and Angelo.
Tim has not been back to the camp for two weeks now and since he left his belongings behind we can only assume that he may have been picked up by the police.
Be in prayer for Tim, that his problems get sorted out and he is able to make a fresh start wherever he is.
Angelo (pictured here) however has become my friend. I've met with him under the bridge several times. I've given him some basic supplies and a bible for which he's always been very thankful.
Last Sunday I brought some coffee and donuts and the two of us just sat and talked and read scripture together, kind of a mini Church Under The Bridge if you will, it was really cool.
When we talk he quotes scripture and speaks biblical truths to me. He talked about Jesus telling us to consider how God takes care of the "birds of the air" so we can be sure he will take care of our basic needs, but not to confuse that with the promise of and easy life, "life is hard" he says, something Angelo knows first hand.
He talks about the prodigal son and how no matter what we've done that God celebrates when we decide to turn back to him. "If God can forgive me he can forgive anyone."
In all sincerity I think I gain more from our time together than he does.
Angelo has had a rough life. He's spent 12 years in prison in the North East. His father died a couple of years ago and I can tell he's still not over it. He doesn't have any other family or friends in his life at this point.
Even so Angelo still has a really cool outlook on his situation.
First of all he doesn't consider himself homeless, he jokingly says he's "camping". He keeps a clean campsite with no signs of drinking or drug use, just a fire pit, a sleeping bag, a chair (which he offers me every time I come down), and his backpack.
He lives alone in a beautiful river valley. He survives off of bread and canned food. He keeps up with his hygiene and has amazing taste in clothing as you can see by the epic wolf shirt he's wearing.
If I had to guess I would say Angelo is simply choosing to live a life that is the complete opposite of the one he lived in prison. Peaceful, quite, and safe.
I'm happy I've gotten to know Angelo and feel honored to be able to offer a helping hand, after all, what are friends for?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Matthew 6:26
But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.Luke 15:22-24
Big Friday Morning Update:
After being homeless for the last year Tracy now has a place to live!
Tracy was able to link up the Rob and Teffany Kahn who have generously provided a job and a place to stay on their ranch.
This is a great opportunity for Tracy to get things back on track and going in the right direction.
I couldn't be happier for all of them!
I have worked with Mike quite a bit over the last couple of weeks.
We've paid for several days at a Motel because his vehicle was repossessed, a vehicle that contained every single thing he owned.
Fortunately we were able to drive him to the tow yard in South Austin to grab his belongings, otherwise he would have lost everything.
Mike was also able to get his old truck running again as well so at least he has transportation and shelter, although not very comfortable shelter.
He has been making progress with getting his medical coverage and social security benefits reinstated. It has been difficult due to lack of cooperation from old employers combined with trying to find old paperwork, which is hard enough, but especially difficult when everything you own is stuffed in duffle bags because your homeless.
Mike has kept his head up though and is relying on God more than ever before, he knows this is going to work out.
I've also worked with Morris this week as well.
Morris and CD have finished the initial work that was being done and are in between jobs at the moment.
Morris wanted to come to town and register with labor finders in hopes of finding a higher paying job.
Morris needed a little help with the computer application so we sat down together and knocked it out.
He is basically a master carpenter and can build any part of a house, "From the dirt to the roof", he says so Labor Finders was excited to have a man with his experience and will be putting him to work immediately.
We were able to provide Morris with a phone card as well as work boots and a couple of meals, he could not stop telling me how grateful he was for the help. I told him that I'm just grateful he came to the church and that lots of people are praying for him.
I've made a new friend recently. Her name is Shelly and she is suffering from a chronic illness and has allergies so severe that she basically cannot eat anything.
Shelly has a nice little apartment and is a retired photographer so the two of us have plenty to talk about when I visit.
She is so small and frail that it is hard for her to get around but she does what she can.
We've been able to help Shelly with grocery pick up and light house work as well as good old fashioned conversation.
I am glad to have met her and to be able to help out in any way I can.
We are now officially 501c3. I received the documents from the IRS in the mail yesterday.
I cannot express how grateful I am for Christi Conner Rich
and the help she provided, she made it all happen.
Of course we are always looking for donations so anything you can give would be greatly appreciated and tax deductible
We also now have a website. It is still being worked on but the basics are up and viewable.
We will now be using Shelby Giving as our primary donation portal. I will be keeping Patreon as well so if you already use that one you don't have to switch anything.
Our shelby address is:
You can donate by hitting the sign up button on The Prayer Collective FB page or clicking Donate on the webpage.
Shelby offers a one time donation as well as a recurring donations.
I am going camping this weekend so I will not be at the showers this Saturday for the first time.
My buddy Eric Dorothy will be manning the fort so I know it will all go very smooth. Thank you Eric!
Last I would like to thank Paul D. Dedeyan and family for their financial contribution. The Dedeyan's along with Nancy Merrill, and several secret donors have donated money in order to help keep this ministry going.
Thank you all!!
Also a big thanks to all the people who have donated clothes, supplies, and time to The Prayer Collective.
It's awesome to bring people from different churches together to take part in this ministry.
There is one church and one mission, to serve Jesus and glorify God through our lives, and it is a privilege to be able to do so with all of you!
That's it for now.
Thank you all for reading and have a great weekend.
CD and Morris
C.D. and Morris
I’d like everyone to meet C.D. and Morris. Morris, on the left, just rode from College Station to Georgetown three days ago on a bike, a cheap Walmart mountain bike. For those who don’t know that’s like 100 miles. Morris is 55 years old.
He came to town to work a job but when he got here the lady who needed the work had hired someone else. Left with nothing but his bike and a backpack Morris has had to live on a bench in a nearby park, pretty rough circumstances.
Morris came to the showers yesterday and after getting cleaned up and fed he told us his plan to stop by Labor Finders first thing Monday morning, he even had the paper with the address on it. He also had info on where to sign up for housing and food, he told us he plans on staying in Georgetown long term if possible.
It was obvious this man was ready to find a job and settle down.
No sooner than Morris put the Labor Finders paper back in his backpack the man on the right pulls up in his truck, introduces himself as C.D. and asks, “Is anyone around here looking for work?”
I said, “Why yes there is, come on in and we can talk about it.”
C.D. proceeds to explain that he needs some flooring done on his doublewide trailer. He said he pays in cash and that the job also comes with a free room and meals.
Morris immediately raises his hand and says, “I’m your man.”
C.D. went on to explain that he was not going to ask Morris to do anything he wouldn’t do to which Morris said, “I’ll do the kind of work nobody will do, whatever you have I’ll do it.”
C.D. then says that he also has plenty of work taking care of cows and goats, Morris told him that he loved that type of work and that he had lived on a ranch for years.
It was obvious that C.D. had found his helper, Morris had found a home, and that they both had found a friend, absolute perfection.
We were able to stock Morris with socks, underwear, pants and shirts plus a little cash to recharge his phone card since he was desperate to call his family and let them know he was ok.
Both men, well actually all of us, were blown away by what had just taken place. The timing, the circumstances, all of it. Every one of us knew we had just witnessed a small miracle, well maybe a big miracle, depending on your perspective, either way, none of us could stop smiling and thanking God.
It was a just a great thing to witness and we were all humbled to be a part of it.
Father thank you, we simply want to thank you for allowing us to witness something so small and ordinary yet so obviously miraculous. You work within our lives in ways that are amazing if we take the time to notice. Thank you for these men and the relationship that began in your name yesterday. May both of them be a blessing to one another and may you be exalted and glorified through their lives and witness.
In Jesus name,
I met Mike a few years ago while walking down Lamar Blvd. Mike had gone through a divorce, lost everything, and was now living in a ditch, IN A DITCH!
Don't let his unbuckled belt throw you off, he was sitting down before I walked up and well, he has a big belly, I can totally relate.
No, Mike was really cool, totally together mentally, but had simply run out of options in life and was just trying to survive at this point.
We talked for a few minutes, prayed together, and then took this picture. His prayer was for his family and for a better future, it was very sincere.
After I grabbed his photo I gave him all the cash I had in my wallet which I think was just under $20. Mike literally jumped for joy.
I walked away and eventually made it back to my car which was parked another block or two up the road. I drove back toward where Mike had been in order to get on the highway and just before I hit the U turn to go north guess what I saw, Mike, eating a gas station sandwich and drinking a Dr. Pepper.
No drugs, no booze, but food and a soda. I was ecstatic and very thankful.
Back then I didn't get any kind of contact info from people so I have no idea what happened to Mike but if you have a few seconds say a little prayer for him will you, he was a good guy.
This is Lynn, resident of Bartlett Texas. I met Lynn a couple of years ago while driving for work. He lived in a broken down RV that was parked next to a service station where I had stopped.
Lynn was really easy to talk to. He just sat back sipping on his Miller High Life, smoking his cigs, and telling stories.
While talking Lynn admitted his body was breaking down and that it was difficult to keep his job at the nearby trailer manufacturer where he worked. He didn't really complain and he certainly didn't have any plans to better his situation, he basically talked like someone who had accepted his place in life and was content to ride it out to the end, smoking and drinking the whole way.
That Thanksgiving, about a week after meeting Lynn, Kendall and I drove an hour to take him a big plate of food, leftovers from our holiday meal. Lynn was home, gladly took the food, but then slowly retreated back into his dark trailer without much conversation other than a thank you.
Giving him the food felt small and ineffective, I just didn't know what else to offer the man. He didn't seem very motivated to help himself and I didn't have any way to bring about any real change for him either, I felt helpless.
That brings me to the point of this post.
Working with the homeless can effect you in a negative way if you let it. You are torn between wanting to offer help but you soon realize that no matter what you do, many of these folks have already given up on themselves and nothing you do will make any real, tangible difference.
It makes you want to quit.
My plan to combat this is to go back to basics. I will still be in position to offer small tokens of help in the form of food and clothing but I primarily want to pray with these people. Pray and talk and get to know them. I have to stop feeling like I'm a failure for not getting them off the streets and realize that just spending time with them and being a friend is what I'm there for.
So say a prayer for Lynn, and for all the people out there who just need a friend. God is good and he's really placed this burden on my heart. I'm still trying to figure out exactly how it all looks but I am determined to do what I know is right.
Meet Daniel Boone, yes, Daniel Boone or Danny to most people.
Danny was born in 1934 in El Paso TX, inside a Sears and Roebuck. OK, it used to be a hospital and now it's a Sears store but that's how he likes to tell it.
You see, Danny is a storyteller at heart. He can go on and on for hours telling stories, not tall tales either, actual stories of things that have happened throughout his life. They range from small stories about places he used to work or cars he used to own, to greater stories about God working in his life, which was the type of story he told me recently.
Danny had a major surgery for a parasophogial hernia back in the late 90's. During the surgery they somehow tore a hole in his pharynx which allowed fluid into his lungs, something the doctors were not aware of and which almost killed him.
Danny says he remembers that evening though he was asleep, he was aware that it was getting harder and harder to breath. It was requiring so much effort that he became exhausted and was almost to the point of just giving up.
It was at this moment that he began to dream of being in a large white waiting room with four hallways branching off. Down one of the hallways Danny could see his mother waiving and was ready to start walking toward her. He would have had he not heard the words "Breath, Danny Breath!", which were the words of his daughter Danice who had been at her father's side for the evening. Danny said, "I recognized her voice and I knew I didn't wan't to disappoint her so I decided to keep on breathing." He then woke up.
This led to the 2nd dream two nights later. In his dream he remembers being in a bright white court room with a Judge who was seated above the room. "All I knew was he was the judge and that I should not look at him." he said. The judge then spoke and asked Danny "Do you know Sandra King?". Sandra King had been Danny's date for the senior prom. They never went steady but were good friends. Danny told the judge he knew her but that was the end of the dream.
The next morning Danny woke up thinking about that dream. He could't tell his wife Ann about it because of the hole in his pharynx.
As they sat down to read the paper Ann gave Danny his half of the paper and she took her half. A few minutes later Ann says, "Didn't you know Sandra King?" to which Danny could only nod. "Well, it says here she died two days ago." Danny was shocked. Tears welled in his eyes and goosebumps ran up his spine. Ann looked at him and said,"well I guess you really did know her." wondering why he had such an emotional reaction.
Danny was left not knowing what to feel, was he supposed to die two nights earlier and Sandra went in his place instead? Who knows?
As someone who had a very similar dream when my mother died, I tend to think that dreams like those are to let us know that we will not be alone when we step over to the other side. That God will make sure that we are comfortable and with those we love.
I do know there will be no more tears, no more sorrow, no more pain, no more loss, no more want, no more hunger, and no more death. Only life, life in Jesus Christ.
The bible is admittedly vague when it comes to the afterlife. In 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul says "No eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor heart of man imagined what God has prepared for those who love him. "
That promise is good enough for me and calms all of my fears, I think Danny would agree.
“I moved here from Chicago right after 9/11 happened. I came to take care of my mom since she was getting old. She eventually passed away and then the company I worked for went out of business. When they went down I wend down with them. I’ve been on the streets in Austin ever since, it’s been 8 years now.”
E. Ceasar Chavez and I35, Austin TX, Dec. 2018